Transition to College

Making the Transition

Changes in Services from High School to College

Students with disabilities may experience significant changes from high school to post-secondary school.  The major shift takes place in the area of independence.  Students are expected to rely on their own self-advocacy skills to obtain accommodations in college.  It is the role of the disability services office to foster and encourage the growth of these skills while helping students make the smoothest transition possible.  Below is a list of basic changes in services.

In College:

  • The rights of students are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  IDEA no longer applies.
  • Students may not qualify for the same accommodations they had in high school, even if the learning situation is otherwise unchanged.
  • Post-secondary schools are not required to make curricular modifications or provide alternative assessments, teaching strategies or modifications to the curriculum.
  • Allegheny College personnel expect to work with students rather than parents.  Laws governing confidentiality make communication with parents more restrictive.

Students with Disabilities are Responsible for:

  • Identifying themselves directly to Student Accessibility and Support Services if they wish to receive accommodations.
  • Notifying instructors of approved accommodations in a timely manner.
  • Notifying Student Accessibility and Support Services of any difficulties they may experience securing accommodations.
  • Monitoring their own progress.  No one pushes the student to attend class, do homework or follow a schedule.


Disability information is confidential and shared appropriately.  The Associate Dean for Academic Support & Director of Student Accessibility and Support Services will not release any information regarding a student’s disability to professors, deans, and even parents without a signed “Confidentiality and Release of Information Form.”

What to Expect:

Changes in services from High School to College:

High School College
Students’ rights are protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students’ rights are protected under the ADAA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
School districts are required to adhere to specific timelines for identifying students and providing services to students with disabilities. Students must provide documentation supporting the need for accommodations to the Student Disability Services Coordinator.
School districts are responsible for communicating with teachers and staff about the needs of a student with a disability. Students are responsible for speaking with their professors about their accommodations in a timely manner—even if Letters of Accommodations are issued by the SDSC.
School districts are responsible for providing an individualized plan for the student. Curriculum may be fundamentally altered to meet the individual needs of a student. School districts must also monitor student performance and show progress toward goals. Parents may be as involved as they deem necessary and appropriate. Colleges are not obligated to fundamentally change instructional practices, curriculum or policy. Students must monitor their own progress and self-advocate. Students should attempt to work with professors first and then inform the SDSC of any problems they encounter concerning the delivery of accommodations. Students must give permission before campus personnel will communicate with parents. Students will be informed of any communication between the SDSC and parents.